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Stalking the Divine: Contemplating Faith With the Poor Clares

by Kristin Ohlson

Buy the book: Kristin Ohlson. Stalking the Divine: Contemplating Faith With the Poor Clares

Release Date: August, 2003

Edition: Hardcover


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Buy the book: Kristin Ohlson. Stalking the Divine: Contemplating Faith With the Poor Clares


I am loathe to be the first customer to review this because this might be the only review some buyers will see. The responsibility of doing this book justice weighs heavily on me. Although I finished the book four days ago and then went back to read it again, I am still in the flush of great enthusiasm. "Publishers Weekly" got it right (See above) except for the fact that Kris is better than all the others. She is much more entertaining than the rest of the "journey" writers. She has the same gift Kathleen Norris has of humanizing nuns and making their lives understandable, but Kathleen Norris never seems to have any doubts. Kris is full of doubts and questions. The nuns Kris interviews as part of her journey also don't seem smug, those faith-seeking folks who are all so different from one another but not all that different from the rest of us.

I especially liked her treatment of Clare, the founder of the contemplative Order which is her subject matter and which she researched so thoroughly before she started asking all her questions.

Clare was fleeing a 13th century patriarchal world in addition to seeking God. Vowed virginity puzzled the patriarchs because the nuns moved outside of their control. I have also seen that phenomenom among my lesbian friends. It isn't about sex at all; it's about freedom from being controlled and trying not to lead a dull and meaningless life with a husband and kids.

About Jesus as the Bridegroom: I have the same trouble Kris has with throwing around the name Jesus because the Religious Right has given Jesus such a bad name.

I also like the fact that Kris doesn't sugar coat the Church's long history of anti-Semitism or its long history of anti-feminism. She, like I think most of us, wants a religion and a faith where people can get outraged at injustice and never achieve total peace with the way things are.

What Kris does so well is to pull us into her journey. We find ourselves hoping so much her journey will have a happy ending, not necessarily that she will come back to the Church but that she will find a resolution of some kind and peace at the last; that she will find some answers. Yet, at the end, I felt so very glad that she was just like I am. I should have known that a journey would always be a journey and that things would always be "up in the air."

It reads like a mystery story. The thirst to know what happens next makes it a page turner. Folded into the narrative are her own personal trials and those of her heart-broken daughter over the loss of a boyfriend, and the taunting of her rational friends, like the characters in the Book of Job. She stepped outside her own world in order to understand the sisters who stepped into another world themselves and left the old one behind.

In addition to getting to know and like Kris, we also get to know the fascinating and mysterious contemplative sisters she interviewed one by one. How she won their trust is a story in itself. I thought it was neat for her to compare her trips to interview the nuns with "Tuesdays With Morrie."

This is a book not just for hardcore Catholics like myself who can identify with every page, including knowing the same types of loners who hang around the "Shrine," but for all people who are on journeys seeking enlightenment. I predict this book will have a large audience. Conservative Catholics will love it for sure, but New Age folks will also like it, partly because of the killer title which really is what the book is about.

I am sending it to a couple of atheist friends, not to win an argument but help them understand me a little better. I want to show them that I and other people like me aren't sure about much of anything but remain curious about everything and live in the hope that at the end there is a lot more to life than just our own fulfillment.

Maybe I can convince them that in stalking God, the nice surprise at the end will be for us to find out that God is always stalking us...sometimes with books like this one.

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